Looking After Your Mental Health During Self-isolation

In the upcoming months, as Coronavirus (Covid-19) hits its peak in the UK up to 1 in 5 (6 million) people are predicted to have to self-isolate.

For many it is a time of uncertainty and fear of the unknown, and NHS England has said that during self-isolation, people may feel low, worried or have trouble sleeping.

Here at Hungry Caterpillars some of our parents, children and staff members are currently in self-isolation and following Wednesday’s announcement that all UK schools will shut indefinitely, we want to help.

Today is International Day of Happiness, so to those who are struggling with self-isolation and social distancing during this difficult time, please see our top tips on how to try to stay positive and improve your mood.

  1. Practice self-care
  • It is known that stress and anxiety can lower your immune system, so in order to combat this try practicing meditation and mindfulness exercises to calm and sooth your mind. There are so many incredible YouTube videos and Apps to guide you through exercises, whether this is alone or as a family. If this sounds like something you would like to try – Calm is an app, you should definitely check out!
  1. Stick to a daily routine
  • Keeping a daily routine can help to make an uncertain situation more manageable. Make a plan for each day and stick to it. Getting up and eating meals at the same time every day, as well as getting dressed can boost productivity and make you feel positive about a situation.
  1. Learn a new skill
  • Set aside a few hours every day to stimulate your brain by learning a new skill – learning a language or to knit, the possibilities are endless!
  1. Spring-cleaning!
  • For the ultimate house clear out why not watch Marie Kondo on Netflix and get everything super organised! As Beverley, one of our administrators at Head Office says – ‘a tidy room is a tidy mind!’
  1. Keep moving
  • If you are feeling up to it, make exercising a part of your daily routine! Whether it is a HIIT routine or just some simple stretching, get those endorphins flowing to improve your mood. YouTube is full of thousands of exercise videos for every fitness level, which you can do from your living room, or many exercise and dance instructors are live streaming classes – so keep a look out on social media.
  1. Avoid excessive media exposure
  • It is important to keep up to date with current events, but if you feel that the media is making you feel anxious or worried, set an amount of time that you will check what is going on in the outside world for and then avoid it the rest of the day.
  1. Spend quality time together
  • Make the most of being at home by planning some family activities – for example organising a games night or watching a TV series together and set aside time for this every day. However, make sure to give everyone space, to avoid anyone feeling overwhelmed.
  1. Stay in contact
  • In a world where it is easier, to keep in touch than ever before we need to make the most of it. Check up on all of your friends and family members – especially those who may be self-isolating alone. With all schools in the UK shutting down, it is more important than to encourage your children to reach out to their friends and be patient with them – as they may be feeling lonely and worried about what is to come.
  1. Try not to sleep too much
  • Make the most of being able to get 8 hours (or more) a night and enjoy a lie in, but avoid excessive naps – as too much sleep can negatively affect your mood!


We hope that these tips will help make the time you may face self-isolating over the next few months more manageable.


It is important to remember that this is only temporary and by choosing to self-isolate you are helping to protect everyone who is most vulnerable in our society. Try to embrace your feelings and accept that this an odd situation where you are not always going to feel your best.


For guidance and advice on when to stay home: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/


If you are feeling anxious about the uncertainty of the situation please confide in someone you trust or visit https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/ – for advice on how to look after yourself and your loved ones at this stressful time.


British Science Week

Academy Gardens aiming for ‘Millie’s Mark’ Accreditation

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) guidelines state that only one person with a current paediatric first aid is needed on site and available at all times. Millie’s Mark goes beyond this and is awarded if 100% of staff are trained in paediatric first aid and ensure that everything learned from the course is kept in the forefront of the practitioners’ minds. The accreditation recognises the settings commitment to keeping children in their care safe and having highly qualified staff.

Millie’s Mark is also a massive reassurance for parents as they can be confident that first aid is taken seriously in the setting,  and that every practitioner is confident on what to do in an emergency. This is named after Millie Thompson, who unfortunately died after choking on food at nursery in 2012 when she was just nine months old.

The team at Academy Gardens, led by our fantastic manager Michelle, have come together and decided they want to achieve Millie’s Mark.  The motivation to attain the Millie’s Mark is to demonstrate their ability to support children of all ages and with a variety of needs including very young babies in the event of a medical emergency.

At Hungry Caterpillars, we provide regular first aid courses throughout the year to ensure all of our team, new and existing are fully up to date. This is the first hurdle of accreditation. In addition, Michelle and the team have been working through an audit which focuses on various aspects of policies and procedures, the setting, staff confidence, floor plan review, first aid equipment and a review of our staff training matrix (which we already have at Hungry Caterpillars).

Another reason they want to be put forward for this is due to the babies who are enrolled from three months. They want to make sure the staff receive the highest quality training in first aid, so they can fully protect all their children, especially the most vulnerable. They are extremely passionate about furthering their learning, development and teamwork, to provide the best quality care to ensuring the children’s wellbeing is at its best.


You can read more about Millie’s Mark at www.milliesmark.com .


February Training Development Day

On the 17th February, we delivered our first ‘All company’ team development day of 2020.  Held at our regular training venue Alec Reed Academy the day saw all 160 colleagues come together to consolidate their knowledge of all aspects of Safeguarding and Protecting children in our care.

At Hungry Caterpillars, we take our duty to protect children, families and staff very seriously and therefore the day covers everything our team need to know to ensure they deal with situations professionally.  We covered an extensive list of topics throughout the day with all staff accessing all workshops and coming away with lots of new knowledge to support them in their day to day practice. There was a new topic introduced around the safeguarding of children with additional needs, a very important aspect for us as we make sure all of our SEN children are receiving the best care and that all of the team have the most up to date information.

Training was delivered by our director and Senior Leadership Team, supported by Michelle (Academy Gardens manager) and Joyce (West Twyford Manager).   A massive thankyou to our managers who stepped up and delivered training with the SLT.

What the team got out of the day:

A lot of thought went into all sessions and all very different ” Faye, Academy Gardens

It was really good, nicely delivered and good content”  Paula, Academy Gardens

Very detailed and easy to understand”  Kevin, Hathaway

Our next Team Development Day is on Tuesday 26th May 2020.


Working with Famly

Hungry Caterpillars teamed up with Famly about two years ago after we found our old system was not fulfilling the needs of the company. Since jumping on board with the new system, we have had nothing but good things to say about the business side as well as the tracking aspect of the app. The whole team find it very easy to use and compared it to other social media sites, so all the staff are already familiar with the layout and design. By doing all the children’s observations through Famly, and going paperless, which ties into the nurseries Eco-project, it has saved the practitioners a lot of time, time they have used to focus more on the children and the nursery activities.

Famly also has the news feed tab, which allows us to contact the parents instantly. It has been a great aid in building the relationships between our practitioners and the parents. On the business side of the app, it has made payments and direct debits much easier to process and the whole system more streamline, it has saved our staff many hours.


Please watch the short video below, created by the wonderful team at Famly.